The Department of History
Cynthia Hyla Whittaker
Russian and Soviet history; Modern European history
Cynthia Hyla Whittaker received her B.A. from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY, in 1962. By 1971, she had received master’s degrees in Russian history and Russian literature and a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
She is currently chair of the Department of History at Baruch College/CUNY and has taught Russian and European history at Baruch for nearly three decades; she has also taught at CUNY’s Graduate Center since 1984. Professor Whittaker’s research concentrates on Russian political culture. Her book, The Origins of Modern Russian Education: An Intellectual Biography of Count Sergei Uvarov, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and came out in 1999 in Russian translation. She has also written Alexander Pushkin: Epigrams and Satirical Verse. Her newest books appeared in the summer of 2003: a monograph, Russian Monarchy: Eighteenth-Century Rulers and Writers in Political Dialogue, published by Northern Illinois University Press; and an edited volume, Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825, published by Harvard University Press.
Her articles on Russian history cover a range of topics that include the oriental renaissance, the women’s movement, abolitionism, and university education. She has lectured on her research at American and Russian universities and also at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and in St. Petersburg.
Professor Whittaker is also co-curator of a major exhibition, “Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825,” New York Public Library (October 2003-May 2004). It featured over 230 maps, drawings, rare books, and engravings drawn from the rich collections of the library.
Professor Whittaker has been a Fulbright Scholar as well as the recipient of numerous research awards, including grants from the NEH, the Rockefeller Foundation, IREX, the Kennan Institute, and the Harriman Institute, and PSC/CUNY awards. In the academic year 1999-2000, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Slavic Research Center of Hokkaido University in Japan.
Professor Whittaker has appeared on Russian and American television. Most recently, she was a commentator on the History Channel’s four-hour program, Russia, Land of the Tsars. In the past, she has served as the History Channel’s commentator on movies with a Russian theme, such as Reds, War and Peace and Alexander Nevskii.
Professor Whittaker is currently working on an intellectual biography of Catherine the Great; it will include chapters on the Empress as a reader, writer, political theorist, art collector, and patron of urban architecture. Its tentative title is The Passions of an Empress: Reading, Writing, Building, Art Collecting and Other Pastimes.